Wednesday, September 15, 2010

MacKinnon Pass, New Zealand

MacKinnon's make an impact wherever we go, and from the earliest emigrations MacKinnons have been making their way to every part of the world that was available to them.  One of these 19th century emigrants was Quintin MacKinnon, a man who would make his name in the early European explorations of New Zealand.

Quintin was born in Scotland in 1851, but soon became restless.   Before he reached the age of 20, he had already volunteered to fight for French army during the brief Franco-Prussian War in 1870.  After the French surrender, Quintin did not tarry long in Scotland before emigrating from his native Argyll to Otago New Zealand.  There he became a surveyor, and performed a number of exploratory expeditions, particularly in the vicinity of Lake Te Anau (Maori for 'cave of swirling waters').

He is best known for being the first European, along with  Ernest Mitchell, to travel overland from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound.  The Maori had been using the trail there for generations, and today it is known as the Milford track, with the tallest point named in Quintin's honour, MacKinnon Pass.  Quintin made his living giving guided tours of the Milford track, as well as being the government mail carrier between Milford Sound and Lake Te Anau.   The duration of the trip was reduced to six days after much effort on Quintin's part to expand and develop the trail.  On November 29th 1892, Quintin boarded a boat to cross Lake Te Anau before making yet another of his routine trips, but his boat never arrived.  A search expedition was organized, but his body was never found, only the remain of the wrecked vessel.

The Gaelic Society of New Zealand, along with Quintin's friend Thomas MacKenzie began raising money to build a memorial cairn, and in 1914 it was erected at MacKinnon Pass.  Today over 14,000 people each year make their way across the Milford track, the trail the Quintin loved.

Photo by Henry Work.  Quintin MacKinnon Statue, plaque reads:

Quintin MacKinnon
1851-1892
Surveyor-Explorer-Guide
In 1888
MacKinnon and Ernest Mitchell
were the first Europeans
to travel overland from
Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound

Their route became the world famous
-Milford Track-

Photo by randomruth.  Quintin MacKinnon Memorial Cairn
The Inscription reads:

Erected
By the Gaelic Society of N.Z. and
the Otago Rugby Football Union
Assisted by the Government
In Honour of
Quintin MacKinnon
Explorer
Who discovered this pass in 1888 and
Who in 1892 drowned in Lake Te Anau

Photo by wehardy.  "View from MacKinnon Saddle down into the Arthur Valley towards Quintin Lodge"

Quintin MacKinnon was a true Victorian in the sense that he liked to spell his name in various ways!  He occasionally spelled his first name Quintin, Quinten, and Quinton.  He alternatively spelled his last name MacKinnon, McKinnon, Mackinnon, and Mckinnon.

*September 15th, 2010 - Update* MacKinnon Pass has been added to the MacKinnon Map.

1 comment:

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